When I first visited China in 2002, I was so surprised by the traffic in the small city where I spent most of my time. There was a constant flow of trucks, cars, motorcycles, bikes, and donkey drawn carts. The only place where traffic lights were used were at the busiest intersections. At the other intersections where stop signs are in place, they were only a suggestion. There were so many people on the streets and the constant honking of horns was much more prevalent than in the states. The use of a horn has a different meaning in China than in the states. In the states, we are saying, “get out of my way” or “hurry up,” but in China you are saying, “I am here, so let’s not have an accident.”
One of the most interesting parts of the traffic in China (when I first visited there), was the number of pedestrians, carts, and people on bikes. I would guess that, in the small city where I was, about 80 percent of the traffic was from the groups I just mentioned. Recently, I had the joy and privilege of returning to the little city where I fell in love with China. One of the main differences I saw in the traffic now, compared to 2002, was the number of pedestrians, carts, and bikes. That number has decreased to about 10 percent, in my estimation.
I was always surprised and terrified by how people would ride scooters and motorcycles without a helmet. To make matters even more concerning for me, you would see parents on a scooter holding a baby, and nobody had any protection at all. By the way, it gets very cold there in the winter, so can you imagine how cold it must be on a scooter, motorcycle, or bike!
My story so far has led me to this point: last month I took this picture of a family on a scooter. You will be able to see how the handle bars have built in gloves to keep the hands warm. You will also see that there is a thick blanket to keep the riders as warm as possible, but look more closely, and you can see a surprise! Notice how there are 2 sets of legs going one way and one set of legs going the other. This couple placed their child behind the front wheel and behind the blanket to keep their child as warm as possible. I have spent a lot of time in China, but this was the first time I have seen this done. I can completely understand their idea!